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The Way of Silence

Friday, June 20, 2014
By Deepa Gahlot

The lack of support for Preity Zinta, when she filed a complaint against Ness Wadia for abusing and harassing her in public, is symptomatic of the film industry’s indifference towards anyone who is not powerful, or useful to them.

When it comes to partying, everyone lands up to celebrate success, maybe, in private they also commiserate with the failures of their friends, but with a few exceptions, the attitude of the film industry is chadhte suraj ko salaam—salute the rising sun.

Preity Zinta is no longer an A-lister, she is not arm candy of some rich or powerful male, ergo, why stick the neck out for her? It’s not as if she is going to be the leading lady in their films so why should her gratitude be sought? The quotes extracted by the media from her colleagues sound either reluctant or non-committal.

If it’s a man at the receiving end, industry men band together, no actress who has raised her voice against anything has managed to get enough support to get heard. Everybody is conveniently out of town or out of reach.

The fact also is that the industry is always vulnerable to threats from anybody who wants some media mileage. The money riding on films is so high, that nobody wants to take any risk, and if they take a stand, it’s usually on safe subjects, where they have nothing to lose. Hiding under their shells has thus become a habit. The only ones who short their mouths out are the ones looking for easy publicity – but even they speak on random topics that won’t boomerang on their careers.

Whenever a woman, or even a man has taken on industry (or outside) high-ups, they have had to fight a lone battle. They have had to stake their careers, and many times, they have just not recovered from the backlash.

The Preity-Ness matter was personal, and there is a somewhat valid reason for many to say they don’t wish to comment. But when the industry is under attack for social or political issues, there is rarely a show of solidarity.

In contrast, when a writer or artist is attacked by some loony faction quick to take offence, the community stands up in protest, even if it is a token gesture like an online signature campaign, a march or a letter to the ministry concerned. The film industry people have turned looking the other way into a fine art.

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